5 Questions with Tricia Lawrence

Published April 17, 2012 by LS Murphy

Tricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of Erin Murphy Literary Agency —born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 16 years of working as a developmental and production-based copyeditor (from kids book to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist hoping to learn from Erin and Joan about agenting.

As associate agent, Tricia represents middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. She’s looking for strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here.

Now on to the FIVE QUESTIONS

1. Did you always want to be an agent?

I have always wanted to write AND . . . Just like that Coke Zero commercial. I love books and stories and thought I might be a writer when I was young (I wrote pages of terrible prose when I was very young and all through my teen years). But someone told me to learn to edit, I can’t even remember who now, and that’s what I did. And then as the years went by and I edited and wrote, I began to advise writers on their marketing, queries, proposals. See, I can’t just do it myself, I have to meddle in other people’s stuff, too. It was my personality that had to write AND edit AND agent. So, I have always wanted to be an agent, I just didn’t know it until about five years ago.

2. How important is a platform for new and established authors in the 21st century?

Platform is one of those words that makes the veterans in publishing want to cry. I like to say that it is important for writers to be individuals, to be themselves, and to let THAT support them as a writer. Practically speaking, this means what works for that writer over there will not work for you. You may love to blog, the next writer may prefer to put up YouTube videos of themselves talking (same audience, different medium and learning style). To be individual, a writer must be sure of who they are. There is no clone system, although that is a great idea! Every writer has to gauge the energy level they own and then push it. I think the most successful writing “platforms” (I hate that word!) are those that spring organically out of the writer’s work. Call it your life work, your life story, whatever. What is unique about how you see the world that you can use to build on. That’s important. An actual platform that we all could literally fall off of; not so important.

3. What is the most common mistake most authors make when pitching an agent at a conference?

One of my writing buddies wrote this on her blog a few weeks ago: “Don’t treat the agent like they are your one shot to fame and fortune.” I agree! Treat agents like we should be treated—as human beings, who have traveled far to get there, who are probably starving, brain-tired, in need of some peace and quiet, and who are alone in a big crowd. Agents at conferences often feel like they are human targets. Instead of perpetuating that, how about just being friendly? Ask them where they are from and about their kids/animal kids. Ask them about a favorite book they read recently. Ask them questions you would ask someone if you wanted to truly get to know them. That’s powerful.

4. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

To dig deep, to never give up, to do what you have to do to stay confident because just as others have learned how to write amazing books, so too can you.

5. Finally, Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Oh boy. Well, my dad was a radio dj and so actually, in our house, it was the Birds.

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